Today, like every Saturday, we spent half the day focused on Boy1. Instead of a weekend lie-in we are up and out taking him to sports practice, so our weekend doesn’t really start until 1pm.
Before parenthood, I’d hear stories about how much time parents spend taxiing their offspring from one place to another. From clubs to lesson, in between parties and events. I always thought that was just for a certain kind of parent. I conjured up this image of pushy, middle class parents, prepping their children’s CVs or UCAS applications a decade in advance by signing them up to various sports and music classes. Why else would a grown adult spend their limited free time ferrying their kids from one class to another?
Fast forward 7 and a half years and guess what, I’ve become the mother chauffer. Boy 1’s list of extra curricular activities currently includes football, swimming, tennis, guitar, clarinet and Minecraft club (don’t ask). Before I returned to work, we actually added Spanish and fencing into the mix (how very Cheshire), but they were cut short once working life resumed.
But my reasons for his endless list of activities has nothing to do with applications or impressing others. The only CV I’m focussing on is his CV of life experience. Of the grand list of hobbies, the only ones we actively put him forward for were swimming (life skill) and football (exercise and teamwork) quite a few years ago and he still enjoys both. Everything else was all down to the boy himself.
You see, I have an active 7 year old. He’s interested in learning how things work, how he can acquire a skill, making new friends. I want him to try new things, discover his strengths, weaknesses, passions and dislikes. I don’t want to be the one to put out that fire of enthusiasm just yet – life will inevitably do that at some point.
Right now he loves the fact he can play James Bay’s Hold back the River, reaaaally slowly. Whilst they don’t win very often, the sense of camaraderie I’ve seen in his football team is simply magical. He’s enjoying life. He’s learning so many life lessons outside of classroom and it’s great.
He also has a ridiculous amount of energy to burn. If he wasn’t running around for 2 hours on a Saturday morning, he’d be driving us crazy come mid-afternoon.
Thankfully we can afford to fund all of these activities at the moment. I just wish it was the case for all under-10s. Just think how many Olympians, Oscar or Brit Award winners we might be able to nurture if all children had the chance to try new hobbies. How many miss out on discovering their talent because they were never given the chance.
Don’t get me wrong, we don’t just sign up for a new club as soon as he sees it on TV. There’s usually some kind ‘interview’ stage to gauge his level of genuine interest. Plus he knows he can’t just give up a hobby as soon as he decides he doesn’t like it or finds it hard, without putting any effort in. That’s another lesson right there!
I know at some point we’ll need to reduce the number of activities. He’ll have more homework or exams to deal with, or we’ll have to start allocating some activity budget to Boy2. Or he’ll just get bored.
But until then, it’s my job to encourage this zest for life and learning. And to do this I’ll need to keep on chauffeuring. Pass my keys…